Does it seem like it has been extra cold this spring? Some have speculated that the relative dearth of home runs--especially in April--is attributable to colder weather conditions, which favor pitchers. Sabernomics digs up the weather data and is not convinced. The average temperature this April was 62.76 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than last year's 60.59 (despite fewer home runs). A comparison of pre-testing years ('00-'04 vs. '05-'08) shows that weather only accounts for just over four percent of the home run rate. It is likely that humidity and wind patterns affect home run rates as well, but data for these variables are much harder to come by.
Are you watching with an offset camera angle? You might be, and not even know it. That's the lesson of this recent article in Slate. NESN, argues Greg Hanlon, employs a camera that is directly behind the pitcher in center field. All but two other networks employ a camera angle that is 10 to 15 degrees off-center. There are video comparisons available at the link. The reasons for the angle are old and mostly irrelevant today, so maybe it's time for a revolution! It should be noted, though, ESPN tried a dead center angle for just over a year before abandoning it due to expense. Personally, I just wish they could more consistently provide an angle to see whether a guy checked his swing or not.
Over at Mouthpiece Sports, Eamonn Brennan is furious at Steve Lyons. I don't blame him, after Lyons said this:
Collins: Batting Average on Balls in Play?
Lyons: Stupid. Doesn’t tell me if the guy is a player. Doesn’t tell me if the guy can play. Is he a gamer? Does he get dirty? Does he go out there and play hard? Is he a good teammate? None of that stuff tells me any of that. That’s the guy I want.
Fair point, Steve Lyons. So what's the big deal?
Baseball has always been a club, but now the nerds are sneaking in, and no matter how much guys like Lyons and Joe Morgan caterwaul, they’re here to stay. We knew that already.
But now the nerds have microphones. Now the fight is fair.
I was not assigned a microphone. Is there a special office I need to visit to get a microphone? How do I get there from my mother's basement? Before we leave I need to grab my inhaler.
At DRaysBay, Tommy Rancel nominates Jeff Niemann as The Big Average (but I gotta say, I love "The Big Nyquil"). What I bet you didn't know was that Jeff Niemann is actually Vicente Padilla in disguise (and not paid as well). Padilla has a slightly better home run rate, Niemann a better K rate, but you really have to squint to differentiate them. These two guys may be as close to league average pitchers as the American League has. Interestingly, even the individual pitches thrown by Padilla and Niemann match up in terms of velo and movement.
Finally, a neat tool was just introduced at Hardball Times called WPA Inquirer. It lets you input any game situation and learn the WPA going forward. It has a number of advantages over other WPA calculators, explained here, and the tool itself can be found here. In a FanShot here at BtB, vivaelpujols offers a pop quiz--no cheating!